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Probe the Indian terror links of Headley and Rana

January 24, 2013 14:07 IST

There has been a huge cover-up of the LeT iceberg in India that helped David Headley and Tahawwur Rana plan the 26/11 terror strike, says B Raman

Tahawwur Hussain Rana, a member of the Chicago cell of the Lashkar-e-Tayiba and the principal accomplice of David Coleman Headley, has already been sentenced by a Chicago court to 14 years in prison for his association with the Pakistani-American and the LeT in the abandoned plans to blow up the office of a Danish newspaper in Copenhagen, which had published caricatures of the Holy Prophet.

Curiously, he has not been convicted for his role in the 26/11 terror strike on Mumbai despite the fact that he had facilitated the frequent visits of Headley to India at the instance of the LeT to collect operational intelligence for the attack.

According to Rana’s own admission, he was aware of the impending terror strike in Mumbai even though he had no role in it. According to him, a retired officer of the Pakistani Army told him of the impending strike during a meeting in Dubai before he flew to China on his way back to Chicago.

This was sufficiently strong evidence for convicting him as an accomplice before the act, but this aspect seems to have been ignored by the prosecution and the court. This could open the door for the Government of India to seek his extradition since the bar of double jeopardy may not apply. Under the double jeopardy clause, a person cannot be convicted twice for the same offence.

Even though officials of the National Investigation Agency have been quoted in sections of the media as saying that they would move for Rana’s extradition, I doubt if any serious efforts would be made by the NIA to get him to India.

Headley will be sentenced -- for his involvement in the Mumbai terror strike, the Copenhagen terror plan and his cooperation with the LeT and suspected officers of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence -- by a Chicago court on Thursday.

Since his trial is based on a plea bargain with the Federal Bureau of Investigation on the basis of his confession, the FBI has not sought the death sentence for him. The FBI has also reportedly made a commitment that he will not be extradited to India. He is, therefore, expected to be sentenced to a prison term which is likely to be longer than the one awarded to Rana.

Headley and Rana comprised the tip of the Chicago iceberg of the LeT which facilitated the 26/11 terror strike in Mumbai by the LeT and ISI masterminds in Pakistan. The FBI and the NIA, whose officials were allowed to question Headley in FBI custody, were able to collect details regarding the Pakistani links of Headley and Rana.

The hidden iceberg itself consisted of the contacts of Headley and Rana in India who facilitated their frequent clandestine travels to India to help the LeT and the ISI in planning and executing the 26/11 strike.

Surprisingly, there are not too many references to the Indian cells of Headley and Rana in the narrative of the FBI or in that of the NIA. No attempt has been made to identify and question them.

There has been a huge cover-up of the LeT iceberg in India that helped Headley and Rana. While the NIA has shown considerable persistence in repeatedly questioning a few Hindus who had allegedly indulged in acts of reprisals in the Malegaon and Samjhauta Express explosions, it has scrupulously avoided identifying and questioning the Muslim contacts of Headley and Rana in India.

Indian analysts and political parties have not shown much interest in exposing this cover-up by the partisan ministry of home affairs and demanding an end to this. One must raise this issue strongly and demand thorough enquiries into the matter.

B Raman